Tragedia giapponese in Two Acts by Giacomo Puccini . Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after Pierre Loti, John Luther Long and David Belasco In Italian. With German and English surtitles. Recommended for ages: 12 and over
A traditional Japanese wedding ceremony. The U.S. Marine Lieutenant Pinkerton has chosen the geisha Cio-Cio-San, known as Butterfly, to be his wife. It could be a dream come true for this girl from a poor background. But the wedding is a fake, the girl has been paid for and their love is an illusion – though not for Butterfly. Her love for Pinkerton is combined with hopes of freedom, wealth and happiness in faraway America. She breaks with her family and her religion and cuts off links with everything related to her heritage. Pinkerton on the other hand is searching for love – and also searching for himself, without ever forgetting where he comes from. Isolated from society, Butterfly spends three long years waiting for her lover to return. When he does come back together with his American wife, in order to bring his child «home», Cio-Cio-San is confronted in the starkest possible terms with the hopelessness of her love. She grants her son his freedom and can only see one outcome for herself: death.
In his opera, which received its world premiere in 1904, Puccini makes use of the fashion for all things Japanese that had flourished in Western cultural circles since the middle of the 19th century when the American fleet had forced open Japan’s ports. This fashion also had a darker side, however: as it also gave rise to the particular kind of investigation of foreign cultures that is now described as «sexual tourism». This is also a theme in «Madama Butterfly».
The Russian director Vasily Barkhatov will produce his interpretation of this «Japanese tragedy» on Theater Basel’s main stage. Here Vasily Barkhatov has already demonstrated his special insights into the emotional and social fault lines of an opera work with his productions of Mussorgsky’s «Khovanshchina» and Prokofiev’s «The Gambler». The Milan-born conductor Antonello Allemandi provides the musical direction. He is a regular guest at the opera houses in Vienna, Paris, Milan, London, New York, Moscow, Madrid and Munich and at the Salzburg Festival.
Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly)
Suzuki, servente di Cio-Cio-San
B. F. Pinkerton, tenente della marina degli Stati Uniti
Sharpless, console degli Stati Uniti a Nagasaki
Il principe Yamadori
Lo zio Bonzo
Il commisario imperiale/L'ufficiale del registro
La madre di Cio-Cio-San
Preisstufe VIII (von 30.– bis 137.–)
Ballet by Johan Inger